R.S Peters

Published: 2021-06-29 04:15:04
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Richard Stanley Peters was a British philosopher. His work belongs mainly to the areas of political theory, philosophical psychology, and philosophy of education. Peters gives us an idea about the notion of discipline, authority and freedom. In ethics and education, R. S Peters speaks of education as ‘initiation into activities or modes of thought and conduct that are worthwhile’. According to Peter, the notion of discipline is tied to the learning situation and refers to the very general activity of submission to rules or system of order, whether externally brought about or self-imposed.
The formal school education will be difficult to maintain without the existence of certain rules. Children are socialised in such a way that from an early stage itself some form of discipline are adopted in the form of reward and sanction at school. As they grow, they adapt themselves to the situation and implement the disciplines in their lives. Adults are the first teachers in a child life. A child can take the parents or a teacher at school itself as a role model and disciplined himself according to the disciplines of the role model.
So it is very important for a teacher to be a disciplined one. The concept of social control at school is linked with authority. Teachers are put in authority to do certain jobs for the community and to maintain social control at school at the same time. As teachers, they are naturally given authority over the students. Part of what a teacher is expected to do is to maintain an orderly environment conducive to learning, for the benefit of all concern.
However, when teachers find that learners are not respecting this ‘authority’, teachers may try to back it up with corporal punishment. We must note that by doing so, teachers are moving away from true legitimate authority into the area of power and force. Authority is based on right while power and force have nothing to do with rights. It was R. S Peters who first pointed out the difference between a teacher ‘in authority’ and a teacher being ‘an authority. Teachers are legitimately placed in authority. This authority needs to be built and maintained.
Teachers as ‘an authority’ have a sound, broad and deep knowledge of what is to be taught and how to teach it. Freedom has both positive and negative dimension. Freedom is important as it promotes the interest of people and maximises the opportunities for doing what is worthwhile. However, teachers and parents are often put into dilemma of whether to let the children decide for themselves or not. Many children often choose what is bad and their life changes from good to bad as their choice proceed. In educational aspect, the application of freedom is not so simple.
Children are compelled to go to school and also the conditions under which learning takes place make it imperative that something like the rule of law should be established within the educational situation. There are many controversies concerning authority, freedom and discipline in the education system. Some would argue that freedom is morally desirable and a minimum authority should be exercised on children so that they are ready for adulthood. Some would say that the current lack of law in the community is exactly the outcome of too much freedom.

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